Is the Cayman GT4 RS really THAT good?
The 2021 LA Auto Show has hosted some pretty awesome reveals, but no automaker has made more of an impact so far than Porsche. The automaker revealed a 590-horsepower Taycan GTS, but that pales in comparison to the epic 2022 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS variants that were debuted too. One is a track-only machine called the Clubsport while the other is one you can enjoy on the road.
With loads of true RS touches and the engine of a 911 GT3 that has only been slightly detuned, one can't help but wonder if the easier-to-predict mid-engine sports car is a better buy than the more expensive rear-engine masterpiece. And before you say this is a silly comparison, Porsche GT boss Andreas Preuninger himself compares the two cars. Furthermore, what else is there? Shelby GT350? No longer on sale. McLaren 570S? Not really in the same league. Porsche truly is competing with Porsche on this one.
Both cars are styled in the same vein. Both cars get plenty of lightweight components and splashes of carbon fiber. Let's start with the GT4 RS. An aggressive front splitter leads to air curtains beside bulging intakes housing LED running lights, while the fenders are vented. The hood is typical RS too, with a vent and a pair of NACA ducts. Along the profile, you see a subtle intake scoop behind the B-pillar and the 718's first-ever 20-inch forged centerlock wheels. More carbon accents and a swan-neck wing draw your eye to the rear, where a ducktail spoiler and a prominent diffuser housing a pair of large tailpipes are housed.
The most hardcore 911 you can buy at the moment is also bewinged with a swan-neck fixture on the rear deck. It, too, gets a ducktail spoiler and a large diffuser housing a pair of pipes, but these are closer together in the middle of the rear due to wider rear tires and other packaging subtleties. Subtle vents frame the bumper while bulging arches house 21-inch wheels at the rear and 20s at the front. The profile is cleaner and the hood's vents are also more subtle here, but not everyone likes the new front bumper. It's difficult to say which looks better, but there's no doubt that the 911 GT3 is a little more elegant. Opt for the wingless Touring Package, and the GT3 is far classier. This writer's personal choice is the GT3, but only just.
The GT3 has one of the world's finest naturally aspirated engines in its 4.0-liter flat-six. It revs to a glorious 9,000 rpm and develops an ideal 502 hp with 346 lb-ft of torque, allowing it to get to 60 mph in as little as 3.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 197 mph. The same motor powers the GT4 RS, except with a little less grunt. 493 hp and 331 lb-ft are the ratings, but the 9k redline remains. The only reason it's down on power is that the different exhaust system reduces the output. 0-60 comes up in the same 3.2 seconds, and the top speed is 1 mph lower at 196 - likely so that 911 owners can still maintain some bragging rights.
Top speed isn't the only metric where the 911 GT3 asserts its superiority, however. At the infamous Nurburgring, the 911's better downforce, wider tires, and greater aerodynamic presence help contribute to a time of 6:55.2 - almost two seconds quicker than even the 918 Spyder hypercar could manage. The GT4 RS is no slouch, but it is still considerably slower at 7:09.3.
In the real world, the biggest difference between the two cars is that the 911 is offered with a slick manual gearbox or the outstanding PDK dual-clutch, while the GT4 RS can only be had with two pedals because the 718 Cayman's regular stick-shift 'box can't handle the new engine's torque. It's a small distinction, but it makes all the difference. Sorry, GT4, the 911 wins this round.
The 718 Cayman GT4 is slathered in Race-Tex faux suede with loads of carbon fiber accents, small touches of leather, and almost no metal. The clean and simple steering wheel is free of distractions and boasts a 12 o'clock marker to help you reign in those long, lurid slides or target apexes, while a dashtop analog clock, a central tachometer that is also analog, and a classy dash layout all blend functionality with cutting-edge tech.
The 911 is no different in philosophy but is differentiated by its execution. Instead of fabric door pull loops (remember, this is not an RS model), the GT3 gets a little more leather, a more modern infotainment screen and interface, and a touch more brightwork. Both are excellent, both are ergonomic, both are supportive, and both are strictly two-seaters, but the GT3 just looks a little more special.
The 2022 911 GT3 retails at a base MSRP of $162,450 including destination and handling fees. The 718 Cayman GT4, on the other hand, carries a base price of $143,050 with shipping charges, which is a massive difference that can be put towards tires and a new helmet for those track days that Porsche GT drivers love so much. The 911 is more spacious inside though, albeit less practical for cargo unless you use the space behind the seats. The 718 is more approachable on the limit, but the 911 is not impossible for novices to enjoy either.
Ultimately, we think that your driving ability, your love for racy styling cues, and your bank balance could make the decision, but if money were no object, we'd love to have both. Forced to choose, we'd be insane to pass up on a 911, especially when it's as good as the GT3 is. The GT4 RS is doubtless excellent, but the 911 remains the king.